I'm pretty new to electrical work in general and was wondering how I would open and close a solenoid valve. It says on the specifications that it needs 12 VDC. Do I just take a 12 volt battery and put each wire on the battery (is it that simple)? I've seen people wire up push buttons and Ardiunos which is getting me confused. What would be the simplest way? Do I need all these complicated parts or can I literally just use a battery? Thanks for any explanation to a noob like me, this stuff is pretty intimidating. This is the image of the solenoid valve I have.
If the solenoid says 12 VDC on the label, then you can operate it with a 12 V battery. As the solenoid is terminated in two wires, you can just touch the wires to the battery terminals. This assumes the battery is beefy enough to provide all the current that the solenoid tried to draw.
Caution, if you hold one wire in each hand as you disconnect the battery, you may feel a shock. This is due to the inductance of the solenoid producing a high voltage as the current decays quickly on disconnection.
Most people would want something a little more tidy than just connecting wires to the battery. At a minimum, most would chose to use a switch in series.
If you want to control the solenoid from something, then a relay or transistor will often be used in series as a switch.
Remember that shock you might have got when disconnecting the solenoid. Whatever switches the solenoid, whether it's a switch, relay or transistor, will also get that high voltage on switching off. If it's a high enough rated switch or relay, the metal contacts will not suffer damage, but a weedy relay or transistor needs to be protected by a diode. This is where some of the complications that you refer to come in.